We set off from Bryce Canyon early to get away from the altitude. Never had a problem before but have felt very tired here. Within half an hour G said, ‘I’m beginning to feel myself again’ and I gave him a slap, but it was true, I did feel better.
We saw a sign that said German Bakkerie, 30 miles and said we’d stop there. When we found it there was a tour bus full of people inside so we had a quick coffee at another place down the road a bit, near a golf course.
Two Chinese women were on the golf course, on the green, taking photos of each other, one throwing a red scarf in the air while the other took a photo. We watched them do this about a dozen times, then they swapped over. This time the one throwing the scarf was rubbish at it. A golfer came and chucked them off. About time too. They must be glad film is digital now. Just imagine taking a roll of film with just your friend throwing a scarf in the air on it into Boots. Thank you, that’ll be £6.99. Oh, you have lots more?
We saw them again later, rushing off a tour bus and running across the road, without checking for traffic, so they could take a photo of a rock that’s been stood there for millions of years and isn’t going anywhere. Two minutes later, photographs taken, they were back on the bus. So many people just seem to look at these lovely places through a viewfinder, click a button and go on to the next place. They must be saving them for later, G says.
We stopped for a drink and a sandwich at a sort of general stores in the outback. Two young girls were running it, both dressed in a kind of robe dresses, very formal and very modest. The place is Mormon owned and a sign in the Ladies said I was welcome to pray in a room next door to the toilet. Not sure what I was supposed to be praying for in a toilet, unless I was very constipated. Not telling you any more details, but didn’t need to pray.
We ordered a sandwich, just one as they were over eight dollars, and one coffee. The girl didn’t look at me at all, just looked down at the counter. When I got back to G I said, ‘that girl doesn’t need modest clothing, she wears her personality like a shroud.’ He said I was very profound and insightful, but I must try not to be prideful.
We sat down on benches that were old church pews and looked at the signs on the walls saying ‘family first’ and ‘trust one another’ and things like that. G said I was in danger of being thrown out because I was wearing sinful ear rings.
After ten minutes, no sign of the girl, so I went up to the counter. There was a big cow bell, like the ones they hang around cows’ necks in Switzerland there and it said ‘shake me’ on it. I shook it but the sound was very disappointing. It just went ‘clunk’. Nobody came out, but on my way back I noticed a flask that said coffee on it and some cardboard cups. A sign said ‘milk in Fridge.’ Nobody in the US does any washing up as everywhere we have been they give you plastic or cardboard cups and plates and plastic spoons that you just put in the bin.
I squirted out some very black coffee and went to look for milk. There was a big glass fronted display cabinet with waffles and things in, but no milk. I asked G to look and he just walked over to the fridge thing and pulled out a half empty bottle of milk. I said it was above my eye line so I did not see it. G said, yes but it was only four feet up.
I sat down again and waited for the girl to bring our sandwich. Another couple who’d come in after us were waiting too and the man said, ‘that girl was raised to serve the man in the sky, not her customers’ which made us laugh and his wife said, ‘don’t be mean, she’s thinking of becoming a rebel and going off to live in an Amish community’ Not sure we are allowed to laugh in here, but we did.
The other couple are from somewhere in Tennessee. They said where they were from, but it didn’t mean anything. It was near Deer Creek, but we hadn’t heard of that either. They said they loved the way we talked and our Queen was a wonderful lady as if we actually knew her. G said, ‘thank you, I’ll be sure to tell her when we get back’ and they looked pleased.
Finally the girl came with a huge cardboard box, put it on the table and went away again. Inside was the worst sandwich we have ever been offered. Two pieces of cheap white bread, no butter, a thin slice of processed beef, a tiny bit of tomato and onion and that was it. We just laughed. Who knew butter was a sin? The man behind us came over and said, ‘wonder what our salads will be like? If we hadn’t already paid we’d have been out of here twenty minutes ago.’ Exactly.
We shared the slice of beef, just us, not the Tennessee couple, and chucked the rest in the bin. As we were leaving the girl brought the salads to the Tennessee people and the man started laughing very loudly when he opened the box.
‘Do you think that was a set up and we were on Candid Camera?’ G said as we drove away.
We had driven past Peek a Boo Canyon and Spooky Slot Canyon on the way and also Hell’s Backbone which was a mountain road overlooking Death Hollow. We didn’t go that way.
G said it was a straight road to Zion from where we were but we wandered off the road a bit to look at a lake, but then we found a sign saying it was 35 miles away, so we gave up on that idea. I insisted on setting the sat nav. G wasn’t hopeful. After about thirty miles the sat nav woman said, turn left here. G said ‘why?’
We turned left, went through a very pretty Canyon and came to an animal sanctuary, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, with a lot of horses in a field and a sign that said, Marshall’s Piggy Paradise.’ G said they sold bacon and pork pies at the gift shop. I said, ‘if we hadn’t had the sat nav in we’d have missed seeing this Canyon and it’s lovely.’
Two minutes later, the sat nav woman said, ‘follow this road for thirteen miles’ and the road stopped dead and became a really rough dirt track. G stopped, just in time before we damaged the car, and a woman in an old battered Jeep went past us, tooting her horn as if to say, ‘what’s the matter with you, just keep on going?’
G switched the sat nav off and hid it under a pile of clothes on the back seat. We only had to drive 13 miles back to find the right road again.
We had to pay again for a week’s use of yet another National Park, even though we will only be here for a day. No way of getting round it as the main road goes into Zion. We tried to buy an annual ticket when we first arrived, but it was such a massive problem we gave up. It’s a lot easier if you’re US citizens. In any case, the annual ones are not accepted in some of the places we’ve been.
We had to wait outside a tunnel. We were the second in line and a lady warden came over to us and said someone had stopped their car inside the tunnel, which is a mile long, to take photos through one of the ‘gaps.’ She said the gaps were for ventilation not viewpoints but most days some idiot stops to take a photo. She looked very fierce and I think the photo takers would have been thrown out through the gaps to teach them a lesson. Bet it was a couple of women throwing a red scarf in the air.
We waited for twenty minutes, in full sun and the shade temperature was 88 degrees. It was worse for G as the sun was on his side of the car, but he never complains. I had to stop writing to laugh just then. Glad we weren’t here in July when it would have been really, really hot.
Finally, just as G was beginning to sizzle and about to be flipped over to cook the other side, 38 cars and camper vans came through the tunnel. We drove in. A sign at the entrance said, ‘caution, bicycling may be present’ which is a bit of a weird phrase. G grumbled about it for ages.
It was very dark and the only car in front of us drove at not much more than walking pace, right in the middle of the road. When we reached the first ‘gap’ he stopped the car to look at the view and I wanted to shout get a move on or the warden woman will be after you.
It took us a quarter of an hour to travel a mile through the tunnel and when we got to the end the car in front whizzed off, not looking at anything.
Zion canyon is really good because you drive along the bottom with huge red cliffs on either side. The best bit is restricted to shuttle buses so we went straight to the town, which is lovely with lots of shops, cafes and hundreds of places selling walking boots and rucksacks.
We were staying in another two level lodge, on the top floor again, and it was really good with two big beds and a bench outside so you could take in the air and look at the big red cliffs all around. The very nice girl on the desk said sunsets from our room would be ‘awesome.’ She lived 30 minutes away, the other way, but used to live in the direction we’d just come from and had to drive through the tunnel every day to get to work. She was born in Mexico and spoke Spanish to other people checking in, no surprise, but then she spoke in Japanese to someone else. She said she used to live in Japan too. Very useful. G brought me a drink from the machine in the lobby and said it was a cocktail of cranberry juice, fresh oranges, apple juice and lemonade, one squirt of each in the machine. It tasted lovely and I tried to make one like it a bit later which was disgusting. G looked very smug and said ‘the secret lies in the skill of the blender’ as if he was a cocktail maker at the Savoy.
As we got outside I saw a woman dragging a suitcase up some really steep steps and I said, ‘that poor woman. Fancy having to go up those really steep steps’ and G said, ‘Marigold, that’s where we’re going. Our room is right at the far end.’
We went back to the canyon on a shuttle bus, free, and then had to get off, cross a bridge and get a different shuttle bus, one in two parts , a bus towing another bus as a trailer. There were lots of pre recorded messages playing as we drove along, a bit irritating, and the driver told us where to get off to do different walks. Just listening to what he said about some of them sounded very strenuous.
People in the bus were in hiking boots, had rucksacks and walking sticks. We had none of these, but I did have a plastic bottle of water. The couple in front of us in the bus were from our hotel. I called the girl Giraffe Girl as she was very tall, very thin and was wearing the shortest shorts possible and even then she rolled up the hem another half inch. They said they were doing the Angels Landing walk.
When we got off the bus I looked at the signs and it said do not attempt the Angels Landing walk if it is windy and in the last few years five people have died doing it. Another seven people died walking to Emerald Pools so we decided not to do that one either.
Angels Landing takes you up a great big high cliff and it’s a narrow rocky path with sheer drops on one side. Children not allowed. I looked at a photo of the climb and got vertigo! After I recovered, we walked along the River Virgin for a bit which was good, but the water was freezing cold.
A man coming the other way said the river was okay today, but sometimes there are flash floods and it floods. He lives locally and a few months ago there was a big flood, the river overflowed the banks and washed away the road. They had to close the Park and a lot of people were stranded on the other side of the damaged road and had to stay in here for three days.
When we got back to the shuttle we’d only just set off when a flock of wild turkeys flapped into the road and the driver had to swerve. We hit one but it ran off into the bushes so must have been okay. A bit later a very strong wind came up the valley, pushed the bus right across the road and one of the open roof lights blew off into the canyon. The bus driver laughed, a bit nervously, and said, ‘that’s going to be fun when it hits the Angels Landing.’
Back at the hotel we popped in to see the nice girl on Reception and get a free ‘cocktail.’ She told me the hotel was Mormon owned and she was the only non- Mormon. All the other staff wore very modest clothes and tied their hair up.
She also told me all about Mormon underwear which was fascinating. Men and women have to wear special underwear next to the skin and if you wear a bra it goes on top of the underwear. I found a photo and it looks very comfortable. I may get some. The clothing is always white and has Masonic symbols embroidered on because the founder Joseph Smith was a member of the Masonic Order. The things you learn on road trips!
The sunset was awesome, as promised. No sign of Giraffe Girl though. Bit worrying.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Las Vegas. Reception Girl said, ‘oh, you’ll love it.’
I said ‘how many times have you been?’
She said ‘Never been, myself, but I just know you’ll love it there. It will be perfect for your lively personality.’
I could hear G snorting from behind the drinks dispenser. We shall see.